Views #1190 | Intermediate (B1)

Language Learners

Peter and Jana discuss their success and failures learning languages.

Jana: So we're talking about learning English. Has that worked for you in any other languages too?

Peter: Actually I thought about that question before and I started studying Japanese a few years ago. I shouldn't say studying because I haven't studied so much but for some reason my Japanese learning is very different to my English learning.

Jana: How is it different?

Peter: I've learned, the little bit of Japanese that I've learned, I've learned through listening mostly and having to speak or, you know, helping myself in daily situations. I haven't been able to master enough kanji and Japanese symbols to be able to read it well or to write it well at all. So I couldn't, like before I studied English, a lot of English came to me because I read so much but now I can't read in Japanese so I'm having to rely on listening mostly and how about you?

Jana: Yeah, I learned Spanish in a similar way I learned English and that is I did study but I didn't think of it as studying. It was fun for me but I did a lot of homework and learning vocabulary and then once I reached a certain level then I went to Spain to practice but with Japanese I haven't reached that level yet and somehow I seem to have forgotten how to learn a language. It doesn't work any more so, yeah, I have been trying to learn Japanese for a few years but I think my brain has just become lazy.

Peter: It's interesting. Maybe our brains tackle every language in a different way, I don't know, because I'm also finding out it's becoming more difficult but maybe we're only getting older and that's maybe one of the reasons.

Jana: Maybe so.

Peter: Do you think age matters as you've, for language learning?

Jana: I would like to say no but I think there are different factors. So, surely, when you're young you learn faster and I think especially because there's nothing else that's occupying your mind. You're just studying. Maybe you go to high school or even university so it's easy to take on another subject. So say I want to learn French or whatever, so it's just more similar kind of thing learning but once you start working and your brain is not used to that kind of input any more, I think then it becomes more difficult.

Peter: So age might have something to do with it? But I think though I had this old friend who started, he retired and then he started studying French and he studied French I believe when he was in his twenties but then he started working and gave up and then he started again and he could afford to go to France for three months and just learn and live there and he came back and at the age of sixty five and he was so much better in his French and he'd made some French friends, so I think it has a lot to do maybe with your motivation too maybe, your interest.

Jana: That's right. I was just going to say maybe more so than age.

Peter: Yeah.

Jana: Maybe when you're young you might be more eager to learn but if you have that same kind of motivation when you're older then why not?

Peter: Because a lot of people take up studying a language later in life when they have more time or maybe more money to spend on it.

Jana: That's right. OK, let's try a bit harder.

Peter: I think so too. Let's try harder.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson



I haven't been able to master enough kanji.

When you 'master' something, it means you become really good at it. Notice the following:

  1. The teacher wants to make sure that everyone has mastered the material.
  2. You have to master the main notes before you can move on to more complicated songs.

come to


A lot of English came to me because I read so much.

Used like this, 'come to me' means that you think of something, understand it or can learn it very quickly. Notice the following:

  1. Languages really come to him easily, because he has a good ear for sounds.
  2. The answers to these problems just kind of come to me. I don't have to work that hard at it.



Maybe our brains tackle every language in a different way.

You 'tackle' something difficult that you are trying to accomplish. Notice the following:

  1. I think I'm going to tackle my research paper before I start my math homework.
  2. She really needs to tackle the problem of her disorganization.

occupy the mind


There's nothing else that's occupying your mind.

When something is 'occupying your mind,' you are thinking or worrying about it. Notice the following:

  1. When you are nervous about something, it is going to have something to do that occupies the mind.
  2. I hate waiting, especially if I don't have something that occupies my mind.

more so than


Motivation is important, maybe more so than age.

'More so than' is another way of saying 'more than.' The example is saying that motivation is more important than age. Notice the following:

  1. My problem is with the humidity, even more so than the heat.
  2. I love spicy food, maybe more so than sweets.


Vocabulary Quiz

masters • come to • tackle
occupying • more so
  1. The first issue that we need to is which organizations we want to give money to.
  2. She is a very good student and everything remarkably quickly.
  3. Many of his ideas for writing him when he's sleeping.
  4. He usually has a lot his mind and can be very distracted.
  5. than new clothes, I need some new shoes.
Answer the following questions about the interview.


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